Viking coastal walk: Ramsgate to Margate

In April we headed to the coast to walk part of Kent's Viking Coastal Trail. The trail is a 32-mile circular cycle route around the Isle of Thanet, but you could also swap the bike for your feet if you're after a coastal walk that's close to London. That's what we did.

Not the whole 32 miles, I hasten to add, but the 9.5 miles stretch from Ramsgate to Margate. The train to Ramsgate takes 1 hour 15 minutes from St Pancras International - there's also a train from London Victoria, but that one takes between 2 to 2.5 hours - and Ramsgate train station is about a 20-minute walk from the seafront. Head in the direction of the Royal Ramsgate Marina - we did to have a quick look at the yachts - then set off along the rather breezy seafront. 

When you get to the Ramsgate Tunnels (something we would have visited if they had been open) you can take the steps up the cliff to walk through Victoria Gardens. We didn't, we continued along the seafront. But, once you're just past the Ramsgate East Cliff Promenade and Beach car park, you have to go up the steps - or you'll have to double-back on yourself if you continue down the promenade. Yep, we had to double-back. 

Once on the cliffs, you'll walk through King George VI Memorial Park, then along a residential street until you get to Dumpton Gap. You're officially in Broadstairs! At this point you can head back down to the seafront, and there you'll find a small cafe and your first beach huts of the day on this undercliff path. Keep walking and you'll soon be at Viking Bay in Broadstairs itself. This part is about 3.5 miles long, and will take you around 60-90 minutes, depending on whether you're the sort of person who likes to stop and take in the scenery/snap photos!

I timed it so we would arrive in Broadstairs for lunch, though our plans didn't work out. I thought we'd grab burgers from Please Sir!, but unfortunately they were having electrical issues and were closed until later in the day. We returned to Broadstairs the next day to eat there - highly recommend their burgers - but on the day of our walk we ended up grabbing some tasty fish and chips instead from The Mermaid

Broadstairs itself is the cutest little seaside town - definitely my favourite one out of there, Ramsgate and Margate. It has strong links to Charles Dickens - there's the Dickens House Museum and also Bleak House, which was most recently a hotel, but looks to be closed down now - and there's also the famous Morelli's Gelato, which has been in Broadstairs since 1932. We didn't have ice cream, but there's a Morelli's in Covent Garden so we'll have some in London!

But back to the walk. Your next landmark is Kingsgate Bay. Like with Ramsgate, you'll be able to walk for a little bit on the seafront but will then have to walk along the cliffs if it's high tide. (It was high tide for a lot of our walk. You can check tide tables here.)

From Stone Bay until Kingsgate Bay, you'll leave the cliffs to walk through residential streets - including a very nice private estate with some incredible houses. But, as soon as you get to Kingsgate Bay, it's worth heading down to the beach to see the Kingsgate sea arch, and to also have a squiz at Kingsgate Castle (pictured at the top of this post).

This section of the walk is 2.3 miles long, which should take you around 45 minutes. We stopped off at The Captain Digby for a drink, where you can get a better vantage point of Kingsgate Castle from, before we did the final 3.7 mile stretch to Margate. We did have some slight excitement when leaving The Captain Digby though as there was a Coastguard rescue helicopter practising some manoeuvres. Look how close we were!

Right next to Kingsgate Bay is Botany Bay, where we were able to watch the helicopter a bit more from the beach and take in the white cliffs up close. From there you want to head to the Walpole Tidal Pool, your next landmark, and you'll officially be in the Cliftonville part of Margate. The main town is about a 25 minute walk from this tidal pool, which is a massive 4 acres big, and there's also another tidal pool just off the main beach in Margate if you fancy a swim. 

Margate is best known for the vintage amusement park Dreamland, its Shell Grotto, and the Turner Contemporary art gallery. These were all closed because of COVID when we were there, but they are definitely places we would have visited in normal times. Don't miss the Antony Gormley: Another Time cast-iron figure in front of the Turner Contemporary - and if you're sticking around for dinner, we really enjoyed New Street Bistro.

And that's the coastal walk from Ramsgate to Margate! We stayed overnight in an Airbnb in the old town, but you could easily grab the train back to London. It's an easy enough walk - we did it in trainers, not hiking boots - but do be aware that it's probably going to be breezy. The sun was shining but, my goodness, it was freezing with the wind at times.

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